Warning Issued Over Check Scam

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) is investigating a check fraud scam involving the possible misuse of actual bank accounts and check numbers.

The scam targets an un-suspecting victim by sending a check drawn from a well-known retail bank in an amount between $800 and $1,000. Along with the check is an elaborate letter of instructions for the victim, which claims the victim has been “pre-selected” for employment as a “Customer Service Evaluator.” The instructions in the letter advise the victim to deposit the check into the victim’s checking account, at which time the victim is then instructed to call a number printed on the letter. Each letter has a unique “Rep I.D.” number and when the victim calls the number on the letter, they are asked to provide the unique “Rep I.D.” number to the person on they are speaking with.

The preliminary investigation has revealed that the check sent to the perspective victim is not real, however the account number and the check number are. Because of this, there have been incidents where victims have had the check actually clear and deposits have resulted. At this time, the victim’s bank will later contact the account holder of the compromised bank account and will contact their bank advising of the invalid transaction, which will eventually be traced to the deposit made by the unsuspecting originating victim who deposited the check.

Prior to the discovery that the check is bad, the victim has been in telephone contact with the scam-artist, who is usually cleaver and sounds convincing.  The scammer has instructed the victim to go to the nearest large chain retail store, which is usually a Wal-Mart. Victims are instructed that they are employed as a “customer service evaluator” and will be evaluating the store’s customer service, cleanliness and security. The victim is then advised to ask someone in customer service to conduct a series of transactions.

Citizens should be cautious when receiving funds that are unfamiliar, the OCPD advises.

“As a general rule, citizens should go with their instinct,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Further, citizens should never provide personal information including social security number, birth dates, passwords or home addresses to unknown “businesses or individuals. Also, never give out banking information or credit card account numbers over the phone to persons or businesses you cannot verify as legitimate. “

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